Duncan Scott Set For British Championships A Year After Being Hailed As “Skinnier Version Of Michael Phelps”

18th April 2021, London Aquatics Centre, London, England ; 2021 British Swimming Selection Trials Duncan Scott
Duncan Scott: Photo Courtesy: Georgie Kerr, British Swimming

Duncan Scott Set For British Championships A Year After Being Hailed As “Skinnier Version Of Michael Phelps”

Such was Duncan Scott’s all-round excellence at last year’s British Championships that it led James Guy to describe him as “a skinnier version of Michael Phelps”.

The six-time Olympic medallist set a British 400IM record of 4:09.18 as well as swimming a then world-leading time of 1:56.08 in the 200IM before wrapping up the meet with victory in the 200 free in 1:45.54.

Guy, himself a two-time Olympic and quadruple world champion, and Tom Dean, winner of the 200 free and 4×200 at Tokyo 2020, paid tribute to Scott.

Guy told Swimming World:

“You know what? Duncan is a class boy and I admire him a lot, I’ve known him for a long time.

“It’s really hard to see what he does in training and racing – he’s like a Michael Phelps but a skinnier version.”

Dean added:

“Because he is so modest I don’t think people quite realise how incredible an athlete he is and I think we are very fortunate to be not only racing at the same time but from the same country.

“Up there with your Phelps, your (Ryan) Lochtes and your (Kosuke) Haginos, I can’t think of many with such diversity in the swimming world and at such a high level.”

A fine 2022 in international waters beckoned for Scott.

However, the University of Stirling swimmer announced at the start of June he had Covid-19 and a fortnight later withdrew from the World Championships in Budapest to focus on his recovery.

The “extraordinary” worlds were the first of three major meets in the international calendar – introduced when the Fukuoka edition was postponed to 2023 – to be followed by the Commonwealth Games and European Championships.  

David Popovici sent a shudder through the swimming world with his 100/200 free double with Dean getting bronze in the latter while Leon Marchand won both IMs, the 400 in an eye-watering European record of 4:04.28.


Duncan Scott: Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Speaking ahead of the 2023 British Championships which double as world trials and run from Tuesday-Sunday at Ponds Forge, Scott told Swimming World:

“Last year was a weird one so obviously (had) Covid just a couple of week prior to world champs which was a bit of a bummer.

“It was strange – some sessions I didn’t really want to watch and then others I wanted to watch.

“For me it was a bit of a shame because I’d have really loved to have been there with some of these young guys coming through – I’d have loved to go head to head with them especially in some of the events.

“Last year ( was) trying out the 4IM and I’d have loved to have tried to go head to head and seen what I could have done.

“It was a weird one but it’s nothing I’ve not been used to with bouts of illness throughout my career.”

Scott returned to competition at the Commonwealth Games in July where he won 200 free and 2IM gold among six medals to bring his overall haul across three editions to 13.

He didn’t compete at the European Championships, having opted to bypass the Rome meet.

He said:

“For me I would say it’s more of a mindset thing, missing world champs and then I was lucky enough there was a Commonwealth Games not too long after that (meant) I was able to get my head around it and be like this is my opportunity, I’ve just got one meet.

“And in some way that was maybe a good thing, having just one competition last year.

“It’s a mindset thing: if you’re ill two weeks before or six weeks out or eight weeks out, more often than not, you’ll have done a good preparation and you’ll have done enough work, it’s what’s happening upstairs that really matters.

“At Commonwealth Games I thought I dealt with that really well.”

In August he was diagnosed with an IgE deficiency which affects the immune system.

He has been on antibiotics since November since when he hasn’t experienced any illness, the longest period of good health for years.

British Championships

Scott will take on the 100 and 200 free and 200IM at the trials at Ponds Forge, Sheffield.

He’ll meet Dean and Lewis Burras – who supplanted him as British record holder in Budapest with a time of 47.63 – in the 100 with the longer race full of quality including the Olympic champion, Guy and Matt Richards, the quartet who combined to win 4×2 gold in Tokyo.

Scott and Dean will reunite once more in the short medley while Guy will also take on the 100 fly.

Ben Proud hasn’t been beaten in a long-course pool since Tokyo and will face Burras in the 50 free as well as tackling the 50 fly.

Adam Peaty won’t be in Sheffield after withdrawing last week to focus on his mental health with James Wilbywho won Commonwealth gold with the Olympic champion in fourth following injury – and European bronze heading the field in all the breaststroke events.

Katie Shanahan is one to watch in the women’s events, the seven-time European junior medallist having already tasted success in senior waters at the 2022 Commonwealths and Europeans.

The Scot goes in the 200 and 400IM and 200 back.

So too Freya Colbert, now at Loughborough but formerly Nova Centurion, where Becky Adlington thrived on her way to two Olympic titles among four medals.

More symmetry with Adlington sees Colbert take on the 400 and 800 free and she’ll meet Shanahan in the long medley.

The qualification times for Fukuoka are as follows:

world quals first place


world consideration times





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1 year ago

“…Ben Proud hasn’t been beaten in a long-course pool since Tokyo…”

Wrong. Burras beat him last year at trials and he was beaten during the Mare Nostrum Circuit as well.

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